£48,000 lottery boos for museum

PLANS for a major building project at a local museum have taken off this week following a £48,000 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF.

The money will be used to fund a new interactive exhibit which will bring to life some of the war time experiences of the pilots who were based there.

The award, announced on Tuesday, has been hailed as a "testament to the success" of the heritage centre over the last few years.

Alan Doe, Chairman of the Ian McIntosh Memorial Trust, which operates the centre said: "This is a tribute to the work that has gone on over the past few years."

Pilots in both World Wars were trained at RAF Montrose, which closed its doors in 1950. The heritage centre was founded in 1983 to preserve and display artefacts and memorabilia relating to the station's contribution to the Royal Air Force.

The new display will detail what they were taught, how they were taught and how their progress was assessed. It will explain what was essential for a trainee pilot to be awarded the coveted wings badge and for children it will include the excitement of "flying" a Link Trainer, the first practical flight simulator.

The award was also welcomed by local MSP, Andrew Welsh.

He said: "The Montrose Air Station has a superb and longstanding record of improvement and expansion of its tribute to the RAF.

"This award comes also as a tribute to the dedication of the air station committee in expanding a major tourist attraction which will further boost the Montrose and Angus economy."

It is also hoped that the centre will be a boost to local tourism.

Mr Doe said: "We are at the mercy of the north east of Scotland and it is not easy to get tourists to this area but we hope that this will bring them in."

He added that the trustees are grateful for the substantial financial support they have recieved from the National Lottery, particularly the HLF.

Colin McLean, Head of the HLF in Scotland said: "The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to support a project that preserves the rich heritage of our armed forces and engages people with such an important part of our history."

Large artefacts associated with pilot training have been made available to the trustees. From this they have compiled a display which will be housed in an extension to the main exhibition building which was also funded with an HLF grant.

One of the main purposes of the Pilot-Training project has been to illustrate the experiences of the young men whose personal histories are already presented in the centre through photographs and biographies.

Colin McLean said: "This project will really bring to life what it would have been like to have been a Royal Air Foprce pilot during the wars."

The extension is expected to take two and a half years to complete but Alan Doe, who maintains that he is "ever the optimist" hopes that it may take less time.

To help with the research, restoration and other aspects of the project, the centre is seeking more volunteers to whom training of an informal and friendly nature can be given if needed.

For further information, please contact Mr. R. A. Doe, Chaiman, Ian McIntosh Memorial Trust, on (01674) 678222 or RAlanDoe@aol.com